This morning, Council member Gonzalez sent her colleagues a memo outlining the path forward for the City Council’s deliberations on the tentative collective bargaining agreement with SPOG, the police officers’ union.
Gonzalez chairs the Council’s committee that covers public safety issues, including police-related matters. She was the primary sponsor of the police-accountability legislation passed last year.
Gonzalez’s memo doesn’t lay out a timeline for the Council’s deliberations; it says that the “structure, process and mechanism” are still being defined — a challenge in the midst of the Council’s budget development process, when most other work pauses.
But it does say that Gonzalez is requesting OPA Director Andrew Myerberg and Inspector General for Public Safety Lisa Judge to provide the Council with their written evaluations of “how the
proposed contract affects, if at all, their ability to fulfill their purpose, duties and responsibilities as defined in the Accountability Ordinance and/or the federal Consent Decree.”
Gonzalez also says that the Council will likely contract with an independent labor attorney to assist their own staff’s evaluation of the CBA and its impact on the police accountability ordinance. According to Gonzalez, the City Attorney’s Office brought in local labor attorney Otto Klein to assist in negotiating the CBA.
Finally, Gonzalez says in her memo that she wants to gather community input, as well as potentially input from Judge James Robart who oversees the consent decree. It’s unclear what form Robart’s input, if any, would take; he could provide input on whether the CBA is consistent with the consent decree, but he is unlikely to render broader opinions on how to weigh the ordinance versus the CBA in the places where they conflict if both approaches are consistent with the consent decree.
Gonzalez’s memo also includes the relevant passage from the Seattle Municipal Code regarding collective bargaining and approval of CBAs. That section requires that CBAs with city employees must be approved by a majority of the City Council (though the separate budget appropriations to pay it require a supermajority). It also requires the Council to hold a public hearing before labor negotiations begin; as the CPC noted last week, the Council fulfilled that requirement in 2014 when it began negotiations on the contract, and it could be considered a flaw in the ordinance that a new public hearing isn’t required if negotiations are suspended and then restarted (as has happened several times with the SPOG contract in the last four years).
We will probably need to wait for Myerberg and Judge to signal when they can deliver their evaluations of the CBA before we get a full timeline for the Council’s deliberations and vote on the SPOG contract.
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